Ed Sheeran has done some amazing things recently. He’s written some incredible songs, and performed some equally incredible covers. He’s given hope to fans in need and singlehandedly made one wedding unforgettable. He’s even dueted with a Muppet. But on Monday, he out-Sheeran-ed even himself.
As an honoree at the American Institute for Stuttering’s Freeing Voices Changing Lives Benefit Gala, Ed delivered an inspiring and personal speech we won’t soon forget. He began by opening up about being “a very, very weird child,” and discussed how his outsider experiences made him who he is today.
Growing up, Sheeran required special glasses and treatment for a missing eardrum. Meanwhile, after a traumatic laser surgery for a facial birthmark, he also developed a stutter. “Stuttering was actually the least of my problems,” he said, according to Entertainment Weekly. The musician’s uniqueness wasn’t exactly embraced by his young peers, but his challenges made him stronger.
By age ten, he overcame his speech impediment by—get this—memorizing the lyrics to Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP.
“I learned every word of it, back to front, by the time I was ten,” Sheeran told the crowd, “He raps very fast and melodically and percussively, and it helped me get rid of the stutter.”
Although his stutter dissipated, his self-proclaimed “weirdness” remained ingrained in his fiber. And thank god for that.
“I [want] to not necessarily to shed light on stuttering or make it a thing, but stress to kids in general to just be yourself, because there’s no one in the world that can be a better you than you,” he said. “If you try to be the cool kid in class, you’ll end up very boring…”
Ed is certainly not that, to say the least (we mentioned he sang with Kermit, right?). In fact, he’s living proof that staying true to yourself makes you stronger, and in his case, wildly successful. His takeaway for kids and anyone else who’s struggled to embrace their own individuality: “Be yourself. Embrace your quirks. Being weird is a wonderful thing.”
We are standing up, clapping uproariously through the Internet.
Then, because all that wasn’t enough, Ed capped off his speech by performing, “Thinking Out Loud.” When he finished, the crowd called for an encore, obviously. Instead of performing again, however, he donated $20,000 to the American Institute for Stuttering. Could he be any more inspiring?
Thank you for being you, Ed, and for reminding us to be our own quirky, weird, wonderful selves, too.